Year: 1993

Author: Purdie, Nola M., Hattie, J A.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The effects of a motivation training program on the approaches to studying and the self-concepts of a sample of secondary school female students was investigated. The Learning Process Questionnaire (LPQ, Biggs, 1987) was used to assess changes in three basic approaches to learning (Surface, Deep and Achieving). Each approach consists of two dimensions (a strategy and a motive). Changes in seven dimensions of self-concept were measured by the self-concept questionnaire About Myself (AM, Hattie, 1992). The study also investigated the patterns of response to motivation training of students of different achievement levels.

Research in the area of study behaviour has frequently concentrated on defining, evaluating and recommending a syndrome of ‘good’ study behaviours that, if adopted, will lead to improved academic performance. There appears, however, to be no single ‘best’ method of study (Biggs, 1970; Cooper & Foy, 1969; Gibbs, 1981; Shatin, 1967; Tierney, 1982; Tabberer, 1984). Rather than professed study habits, the factors that differentiate between good and poor students of comparable intelligence are those of attitude, goals and motivation (Biggs, 1987; Brown & Holtzman, 1955).

Biggs (1987) has proposed a model of student learning in which the approach to learning and studying is seen to consist of two dimensions - a strategy and a motive. As past attempts to induce students to use ‘better’ strategies have generally not been successful then an alternative approach based on BiggsÕ model is to design interventions aimed at changing student motives in relation to learning and studying.

Many motivation training courses are not aimed directly at improving performance in a specified area. The aim, instead, is to produce a generalised achievement striving such that participants set their own goals in areas that are particularly relevant to them. Such motivation training courses, developed originally from the work of McClelland (1961, 1965), were based on the notion that achievement motivated behaviour involves competition with a standard of excellence, and produces either a feeling of success or of failure and related changes to self-concept (Maehr & Braskamp, 1986). Participants in training programs were provided with information relating to motivational patterns such as goal-setting, decision-making and time management and their sense of competence was enhanced by providing opportunity to practice motivational patterns and thereby establish such behaviours as normative.
The present study was based on the assumption that if a motivation training program could induce increases in both self-concept and achievement strivings in general, this would be reflected in changes in approaches to studying.